(wacky hair. serious face. lots to learn.)
Once upon a long while ago I owned a boutique training studio.
I was young. I was naive. With the benefit of hindsight it’s clear how more I learned from my clients (life-wisdom) than they learned from me (sets, reps and stretching).
As with most gyms (& when groups of women gather although I like to believe it’s changing) a regular topic of conversation around the studio was diet.
Diet as far as the traditional definition (overall food one consumes vs restriction), but diet none the less.
Do you think I need a big, major change? A client would ask.
Should I detox or do a fast to get myself started? Another would enquire.
Nope. Not necessary. was generally my response to all variations on these same questions.
For the majority of my clientele it was neither problematic nor dangerous for them to choose the occasional drive-through experience or delivery pizza for their meal.
In addition, I’d witnessed in the past how going cold-turkey from these ‘pleasures’ (even for a short-term detox) didn’t work. Invariably it triggered binging/overeating in a way the client might not have if she didn’t tell herself a particular food group was entirely off-limits.
I’d watched as clients unknowingly bestowed upon food a power it should never possess as an inanimate object.
Start slow. Set yourself up for success. I’d suggest. Begin with a small step like saying to yourself: On Wednesdays I don’t eat junk.
I was young & clueless when it came to marriage-longevity and raising a child. I was wise beyond my years with regards to the power of consistency and sustainable change.
The older I’ve gotten (and the more I’ve experienced) the more strongly I believe in the power behind the phrase “On Wednesdays I don’t do junk.”
From television watching to online habits these 6 words keep me in check and remind me there’s no need for “fasts” just small safeguards always in place which consistently keep me on track.
The idea behind a digital fast is simple and remarkably like my clients’ food-fast ideas of yore.
You identify a finite period of time to refrain from using all/clearly identified elements of the online world.
The goal with a technology detox is through not indulging in the ‘addiction’ for a stint of time we regain the control we once had over our online lives (versus the supposition they now maintain control over us).
Digital fasts typically last for at least a few days and are often announced with great fanfare on fasters’ social media platforms.
Digital fasts, for me, wouldn’t result in permanent or sustainable change.
Not only is the forbidden far more attractive than when it’s allowed (hello past experiences with Diet Coke) when fasting is complete I’d quickly return to old behaviors or potentially increase my consumption (hello past experiences with Diet Coke).
With technology stick to my “On Wednesdays I don’t do junk” analogy.
I’ve consciously chosen never to ‘technology detox’ and instead consistently implement premeditated offline times and have faith life will provide moments when offline-living happens without planning.
As I shared with clients years ago, substantial change occurs through the act of small shifts maintained over time.
The food parallel is the same as trimming the social media ties.
On a metaphorical Wednesday, when I find myself craving
the connection of FaceBook the hot salty pleasure of a Chick-fil-A waffle-fry I don’t panic/over-consume shouting: I need my People! These are forbidden! When will I ever consume another fry???
I’m not “fasting.” I’m cognizant of the fact the answer to my question is simple: Tomorrow!
To the many of you who swear by the digital detox for the rejuvenating power it has in your life I seek your thoughts:
Is it enough to unplug every night at 7p and to draw personal boundaries without hard & fast rules?
Is it enough to mandate no technology during meals yet choose not to include consumption of the streaming? (all pleasure no guilt.)
Is it enough to ‘just know‘ digital breaks will naturally emerge as I play, engage and am present?
My digital world doesn’t make me dirty.
I don’t require a fast, detox or cleanse.
- What are your thoughts about the power or lack thereof behind digital fasts?
Allie saysMay 17, 2017 at 4:44 am
It’s so funny because I always think “I don’t need to take a specified break from social media” but I didn’t really know why I felt that way…until now! I too owned a boutique fitness studio and never (have I ever) encouraged a fast or a cleanse for the exact same reasons you cited! Now I get why I was so against a digital one – – it doesn’t make sense for me and I feel like I can self-regulate, just like I do when it comes to food.
Annmarie saysMay 17, 2017 at 4:47 am
I don’t really detox in any way either – I do however, try to live my life in moderation and an always on a mission to find that balance that works for myself and my family.
Bea saysMay 17, 2017 at 4:48 am
LOL at what you say about people announcing the digital detox with great fanfare. It’s almost like when people quit Facebook and they have to announce it and announce it again and again.
Carol Cassara saysMay 17, 2017 at 4:54 am
“Small safeguards.” Love the concept.
AmyC saysMay 17, 2017 at 5:01 am
Love —> “On Wednesdays I don’t do junk”
Alana saysMay 17, 2017 at 5:58 am
I don’t use digital (or food) fasts. What I try to do is mindful use of both. For digital use, if I don’t have the time, I don’t use it. I try to keep it as a tool, not an addiction. I learned the hard way when I became addicted to an online game.
jen saysMay 17, 2017 at 6:07 am
I so agree with all of this. I can’t stand the words diet, detox, cheat day, cheat meal,etc Some days I’m on social media all the time, other day’s I barely touch it because I’m just into doing other stuff. Some days I eat all the food, for both fuel and sometimes *gasp* even emotional eating, other days I’m just not that interested and people are reminding me to eat. I feel like I’m okay, I’ve made it this far.
Coco saysMay 17, 2017 at 7:00 am
I have no desire to give up anything – carbs, chocolate, beer, Facebook …. Life is too short to eliminate these simple pleasures. But, I do try to make sure social media isn’t interfering with my enjoyment of other things – the people I’m with, the sights around me, etc.
Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au saysMay 17, 2017 at 7:03 am
It’s all about balance again isn’t it Carla? I try to stay off my laptop for half of Saturday and Sunday – just to have some headspace. I also know I can’t do every type of Social Media because it would do my head in – so Twitter and Instagram are never going to be my friends – but that’s okay – knowing when enough is enough is vital.
Andrea Bates saysMay 17, 2017 at 7:07 am
This is a great piece. I’ve been one of other kinds of fasts because they help put me on the right track. When it comes to digital and whatnot, I don’t do it, because it’s not realistic and it’s not detrimental to my world, I don’t believe. But maybe it has been – who knows? Maybe my electronic life should have been fasted on – or – well – you get me. But I believe what you’re saying here. And think that just like in life, moderation is key.
Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner saysMay 17, 2017 at 7:28 am
I’ve never been a cleanse or detox person. I don’t really think they work and just tend to make people crave the forbidden object more. It’s all about balance!
Shari Broder saysMay 17, 2017 at 7:38 am
I have never found cleanses or detox helpful, probably because I take good care of myself and feel good most of the time. I also believe they are part of the diet mentality which is keeping so many people overweight. I do believe in making commitments to myself and keeping them! Boundaries are gifts. Nice article, Carla.
Cat saysMay 17, 2017 at 8:20 am
I don’t believe in a fast per-se, but I do believe that sometimes the habit of it needs changing. We need to replace a habit or reform it, because becoming too dependent on any one thing isn’t healthy –you know, unless it’s water, or oxygen.
Tamara saysMay 17, 2017 at 8:27 am
We all have those times when social media isn’t what me need. (This past Mother’s Day weekend was one of those for me.)
I don’t think of those breaks as fasts or detoxes. Just doing what I need to do to bring myself a little peace. No announcement required 🙂
Susan Bonifant saysMay 17, 2017 at 9:28 am
Great question about organizing things into your life that may occur naturally if you let them. To me, it gets back to the “idea” of a good life (and the plans we make to support that idea) vs the experience of a good life because you’ve come to trust your natural ability to indulge yourself moderately.
Your junk-free Wednesday policy is a winner. Mine is still in progress, but it’s also based on knowing I need a break from the bad stuff I habitually allow into my life.
Until recently, I was checking headlines compulsively (to be aware of whatever bad thing had happened now.) It was killing my spirit, and when I began to feel better, it wasn’t hard to stick to the plan because the spiritual lift cancelled out that weird need to be so vigilant.
I love your blog, truly I do.
Wendy@Takingthe LongWayHome saysMay 17, 2017 at 9:57 am
We are a society of extremes. I’m amazed at the advice I’ve gotten since my diagnosis. “No sugar, alcohol, meat, gluten, dairy…” in a big believer in moderation and that includes social media.
Stephanie Weaver, MPH, CWHC saysMay 17, 2017 at 11:05 am
I always love your posts. I mostly agree. I have a general rule for myself of 8 to 8. I wait until 8 am to check my phone and I try really hard to not use screens (except TV) after 8 pm. And I frequently try to be off it altogether on Sundays. This came about because as an entrepreneur who works from home, I was working ALL THE TIME. I had to give myself permission to take time off. I worked with a partner health coach to learn how to have more fun… and it started with scheduling time for fun.
messymimi saysMay 17, 2017 at 3:34 pm
My real life affords me plenty of offline time. If family needs me, they get me. If friends need me, they get me. My belief is the electronic world will still be there when i get back, and the topic may have passed but it’s okay, there’s always another.
Jody - Fit at 59 saysMay 17, 2017 at 4:49 pm
I am not into detox or cleanses of any kind including those food ones so many do. As for digital, like you, I step back or do less if I feel the need….. like I am now with doing less or “looking less” at the fitness ones at least. The politics – well, I am a bit crazed on that! 🙂
Donna Tagliaferri saysMay 17, 2017 at 6:02 pm
I use social media for work, so I fool myself into thinking I need to be there all the time. not true. Thank you for letting me rethink…..important things to think about
Deborah saysMay 17, 2017 at 9:12 pm
I can very much relate to this on an eating level. I’ve spent my life dieting / not dieting and much of that really means dieting / bingeing. Even now, after weight loss surgery I’m struggling to control my eating and want / need to lose more weight but the deprivation thing is strong. Gretchen Rubin would say I’m not a moderator… I don’t do moderation, I’m such an all / nothing person. So the moment I decide I need to cut back I start bingeing. Badly.
Susie @ Suzlyfe saysMay 19, 2017 at 5:57 am
I don’t do fasts of… anything really. Except for when I’m having actual pain (rather than discomfort). Like when I need to cut back/out gum because I’m having tons of gas. TMI? ;D
Anuj Gupta saysMay 19, 2017 at 6:38 am
Me too don’t believe in digital fasts. But for sometimes a day we should avoid digital things.
Michele Morin saysMay 20, 2017 at 5:44 am
I see your point.
Certainly consistent habits of self-control would be preferable to a wild abstinence and then a return to immoderate practices.